Service helps student discover career path

Photo courtesy Rayvn Daniel

April Knipp

Summer vacation provides students with an opportunity to get caught up on sleep and binge watch Netflix. But for Rayvn Daniel, summer is about giving back.

This past summer, Daniel spent 23 days in South Africa. She went with her church City Light. Though it was a vocation trip, the group did much more than read Bible passages. They partnered with BEAM, a South African based nonprofit that works to increase local economic sustainability by reducing unemployment and providing skills to those seeking employment.

Daniel and others spent most days teaching life and job skills to men and women between the ages of 18 to 45. Those that complete the program receive a certificate that allows them to work places they would otherwise be turned away from.

“We are equipping them with job skills so they can work and make Africa as a whole, South Africa at least, a better workforce and place in general,” Daniel said. “And I just love seeing people’s faces when it’s all over because they are just so happy to be helped. So many people nowadays, I feel, don’t help others. It’s almost a lost tradition that I love.”

This is not Daniel’s first service trip. In the summer of eighth grade, she went with her previous church to the Dominican Republic. There, she helped build homes and plant crops. Daniel took that trip for three consecutive summers.

Not only did Daniel fall in love with serving, she began to discover other things about herself.

She said she was able to gain an understanding about what she wants to do with her communications degree and what type of nonprofit organization she wants to work with upon graduation.

“That’s when I realized I love teaching, but I love teaching older people,” Daniel said. “So not only does service help you have a heart for others, but it helps you have career skills.”

While in Africa, Daniel and a friend named Jeremy Morton got the idea to create a video of all the wonderful and inspiring people they were able to work with, she said. Before the group took their journey across the world, they watched training videos provided by BEAM.

Daniel said that some videos she watched were not well done.

“People just did them for fun, but they were too long,” Daniel said. “They didn’t feel as impactful. I think I just have a huge heart for helping people and when I see that someone is so close to potential but it’s not right there, then I just want to help push it over the edge.”

Daniel and Morton also saw this as an opportunity to utilize skills they had learned in previous classes. Once the two returned home, Morton put the footage together and created the music. Daniel cleaned up the shots and did the editing.

“I could use my skills and he could use his skills that will help us in our future careers,” Daniel said. “That’s what we loved about it because we’re doing what we are supposed to do, what we are going to school for.”

Daniel and Morton submitted the video to BEAM. It is likely that the video will be shared with future volunteer groups as part of the training process.

Daniel hopes to work with a South American nonprofit mission organization in the future, so she can utilize her minor in Spanish. She says that students should not be shy about participating in activities outside of school.

“No matter what you are doing in school, you can always find a way to use your education outside of school,” Daniel said. “I think a lot of people think, oh I also have to be involved in school, but if you are passionate about something outside of school it’s not going to be the end of the world. It might even further your career.”